I went on to classmates.com tonight and saw my high school yearbook. I was amazed at how young I looked. I remembered how young I was then, how full of dreams. I wanted to go to film school. I had a huge crush on a girl in my English class. I wanted to go to school at Berkeley or San Francisco and wear an army jacket and a backpack slung over one shoulder. I wanted to live in a dorm and smoke clove cigarettes. The possibilities for my future seemed ripe and endless.
How did I end up here? Here is not a bad place, per se, but it is here. It wasn't what Erin wanted twenty years ago. Had I not been LDS, I am quite sure I would have gone to Sac State (Erin had terrible grades and would never have been admitted to a UC). I would have been a photographer for one of those underground newspapers and I probably would have been in a gay relationship.
It is fun to imagine the what-if of my life. In a weird way, I am kind of nostalgic for the life I didn't have.
However, had I not been LDS, I know I would not have had kids. As a gay teen twenty years ago, having a family was out of the question. Also, I know I would have overdosed or otherwise suicided. I was one depressed kid; being gay was only a chunk of the sadness. Drugs were a huge temptation for me--I never succumbed, but I knew I could make the sadness go away, even temporarily. As an LDS teenager, I was afraid to commit suicide because I was certain God would condemn the hell out of me (literally).
Being LDS allowed me to live. The grace began: At first, I merely existed, floating at LDS schools. Then I chose majors, possible lives that interested me. I selected one major that helped me to get my emotional crap together. Getting my crap together allowed me to get married. Then I had a career that further helped me to get my crap together. With that crap together, I felt confident enough to have kids. Now I drive an SUV, have wrinkles and belly fat, and do not smoke clove cigarettes, not even a little bit.
So, being LDS saved my life. Being LDS made me the Erin I am today. I may not be who I dreamed I would be, but I am me and I am here. And that is happy.